Jul 26th 2013
By Karl Lewins
If your website is in ill health, or if your online presence is fading fast, a "health check" might be just what you need to revive your site.
Regular health checks are essential to maintain our well-being and help us stay fit, active, and, dare I say it – attractive! The same can be said of your website. And sometimes it's a good idea to have a checkup with a professional just to make sure everything's working properly. A website health check opens up your website and looks at just how healthy it really is, and what you can do to improve its prognosis.
A website health check starts by looking at your existing site through the eyes of your target user. It assesses:
- Ease of use
Layout and design can be given a new lease on life by a professional designer, while copywriters can create unique content that will attract visitors and catch the attention of the search engines. Navigation and ease-of-use issues can be corrected by a webmaster, and your revived website can look and feel a whole lot healthier in just days. In medical terms, visual issues are the digital equivalent of a head cold – easily treated and quick to rectify.
But if the site has been ailing for some time then there could be more serious underlying issues. At this point, you may have to consider open-SEO (search engine optimization) surgery.
A website that's flatlining in the page rankings and hemorrhaging needs immediate attention. A website health check will pinpoint exactly what the problem is and what treatment to administer to ensure that the website makes a full recovery. If the visual signs are healthy but your website is still performing poorly, then it could be that your SEO is the problem. To discover exactly what's going on, a website health check looks at a number of key areas.
1. SEO results. Commonly referred to as "analytics," this process data mines all the information available on your website's performance in SEO terms to give you a complete diagnosis. It looks at everything from conversions to keywords, meta tags to domain names.
Analytics also takes into account outside factors, such as the demographic you're reaching and even what your rivals are up to. Once a full diagnosis of your SEO performance has been completed, a treatment plan that will revive its fortunes can be devised. This can include:
- Title tags
- Meta tags
- Text content
- Internal text links
- Link building
2. Killer keywords. A website health check will look at a wide range of aspects concerning your keywords including:
- Their relevance – If you use irrelevant keywords that have no connection to your content, then you run the risk of being penalized by both the search engines and your visitors.
- Their positioning – Keywords need to be positioned carefully in the main textual content of your page, your meta tags, title tags, text tags, and even in your domain name.
- Their uniqueness – A health check can provide you with more specific alternatives that are still used by browsers to search but will produce more targeted results.
3. Meta matters. Meta data is information about a particular data set, in this instance, your website. It needs to be punchy, relevant, and give browsers of your site exactly the information they need instantly.
A health check examines if your meta data is really fulfilling its role by asking:
- Is the meta tag doing your site justice?
- Does it give an adequate and accurate summary of what browsers will find if they open the site?
- Does it contain keywords that attract the search engines?
- Are there false or misleading keywords that could result in your site being penalized by both search engines and visitors?
- Do your images have alt tags? (Ctrl + f in source code, then add "alt" to find them.) Most visitors now know that right-clicking on the image will let them view the properties. Alt tags need to include keywords focused on the image.
4. Accessibility in all areas. Accessibility ensures that everyone, including those with disabilities, can access your website. A website health check makes sure that your website is optimized for use by everyone.
5. Content is king. Once it was all about keywords. Now, search engines have decided that it's content that's king. Include a strong call to action, and your content really can make a huge difference to your website's health and consequently the health of your company's bottom line numbers. Good content will:
- Attract visitors and encourage them to stay.
- Attract "juicy" inbound links.
- Push you up the page rankings, as Google and other engines see you as relevant to key searches.
- Give you an air of authority.
6. Technology top up. The health of a website can depend on trends in technology. So a health check will address how well your website works on different devices.
Today, browsing on the move is the big thing – people access the Internet on their smartphones and tablets. A health check looks at how well your website works with a wide range of devices – from PCs and laptops to smartphones – and what you can do to ensure you're optimized for every online opportunity. If you want your website to stay healthy, you need to look at "future-proofing" it by making it accessible on a range of different types of devices.
What's the prognosis?
If you act on the initial diagnosis of a full website health check, the prognosis can be very good. A proper health check could reveal issues that need to be addressed for the sake of your online business' health. The stronger and more vibrant your website, the healthier your profits will be.
About the author:
Karl Lewins is the business development manager at It's Eeze.